Hotel Operations

Hotel Service Recovery: 6 Easy Tips to Stay Ahead of Potential Guest Complaints

For every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent.

Lee Resources International

Unhappy customers are nothing new, but their impact and influence has skyrocketed over the past 10 years. Review sites and social media mean that one unhappy customer has the potential to share their story with hundreds, thousands or millions of potential new guests. This in turn can damage the hotel’s brand and deters potential new guests. 

Consider yourself lucky if a guest complains, because according to Lee Resources International, for every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent. This means that most hotels are not even aware of how many guests might actually be leaving the property unsatisfied. 

Service recovery is the process of addressing and resolving a customer issue in such a way that the customer leaves satisfied. While many hotels excel in this area, everyone can agree when it comes to handling potential guest complaints, it’s best to prevent the issues from happening at all. Here are 6 easy tips to deliver the experience guests expect and prevent potential guest complaints:


#1 Inspect for perfection

Some of the most common complaints from hotel guests revolve around the physical state of their hotel room. These include things such as strange odors, amenities like the TV not working or simply there not being enough clean towels. All of these can be prevented and digital housekeeping checklists help. Digital checklists help individual housekeepers and their supervisors ensure that nothing is forgotten and when something isn’t right, it is important that the staff has the ability to report it to the appropriate team for correction. The best housekeeping software offers the ability to create work orders directly from a housekeeping checklist.

Depending upon what the status of the room is, there should be different checklists that can be provided to the housekeeping staff. For example, once a month there should be a more in-depth checklist that should ensure all the room amenities such as TVs, and hair dryers are working properly. The housekeeping supervisor should also have their own room inspection checklist to make sure that there is a double set of eyes on things and that nothing is being forgotten. 

As simple as it sounds, when checklists are used properly they minimize errors and maximize output and quality. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, acknowledges that the volume and complexity of our work today sometimes exceeds our ability as individuals to properly deliver output to an exceptional standard and discusses how the benefits of implementing checklists into routines can really make a difference in the outcome of our performance.


#2 Preventative maintenance prevents guest complains

Savvy hoteliers know that it is critical to stay on top of preventative maintenance – not only from a financial perspective but also from a guest experience perspective. Simply put – it’s about keeping things in top shape to prevent a future and untimely failure. We have all read reviews on TripAdvisor about the HVAC not working upon a guest’s arrival to their room.  Here are some common preventative maintenance tasks:

  • Monitor pool chemical readings
  • Service elevators
  • Check room and common area lighting features
  • HVAC tune-ups
  • Test carbon monoxide and fire detectors

There are various software options that can help a hotel keep track of scheduled equipment maintenance and set reminders for the team for upcoming servicing appointments. A process like this helps keep all the elevators working and makes sure that guests always have hot water from a functioning boiler. 

Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They'll just walk away.

Marilyn Suttle, Success Coach

#3 Make it easy to get approval for purchase orders

From time to time, hotel staff will need a way to make business critical purchases. Whether it be ordering a part for preventative maintenance or placing an order to ensure that the hotel doesn’t run out of shampoo, there needs to be oversight and accountability for these funds without slowing the ordering process down. In 2020, 46.91% of surveyed companies in North America reported that they spent 21% to 40% of their operating budget on the cleaning and maintenance of their equipment and supplies. Hotels need to have a way to get these types of funds approved in a timely manner. Implementing a system that streamlines this process will help ensure that the hotel has what it needs to operate while still being in control of the finances around it. Digital PO’s can help here as it provides a fast process but also the necessary accountability and transparency.


#4 Commit to speedy fulfillment  of requests

Many hotel guests have some kind of additional request when they come to stay at a property. This could be something as simple as asking for an extra towel or some additional shampoo in the room. Most of the time, they will reach out to someone at the front desk that in turn, will then need to notify another team such as housekeeping or maintenance to address the guest’s needs. Even though the task is simple, it needs to be executed quickly and done well. Make sure that your hotel has front desk software that can keep track of these requests, as well as the ability to assign them directly to the appropriate team or individual.  Top hotels track key metrics like resolution rate and time to resolution to determine how good a job the team is doing servicing guest requests. 


#5 Enable easy communication tools for the whole team

From one-to-one communication to team wide broadcasts, there is nothing more important than information sharing with the broader team as efficiently as possible. Most of the time, the front desk will be quarterbacking the majority of these updates and they need a way to quickly give all members of the team accurate, up-to-date information about the property. When looking for a communication system, focus on finding one that works on not only a desktop computer but also a mobile device so that all of your staff has access to it on the go. When all of the staff is on the same page, your team will be able to provide a more consistent experience.


#6 Make information available in multiple languages for your staff

Beyond just having a communication platform for staff to use, it’s important that the information shared with them is done in a way that they can absorb it. According to a recent study over 51.6% of housekeeping staff in the US speak Spanish. This makes instant translation a key feature in any hotel operations and communication systems your team is using. A guest request will not be fulfilled quickly if the person receiving the instructions has difficulty understanding the specifics of the request. 


When the hotel staff has the right tools, processes and communications methods in place, it is possible to stay ahead of guest complaints and make sure that the property is running smoothly. In the end, this will lead to better reviews, more happy customers and a staff that feels supported.

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